Cahiers d'Art is honored to invite Galerie Eva Presenhuber to present, for the first time in Paris, an exhibition of work by Dieter Roth and Josh Smith.
Through a selection of paintings, drawings, collages and etching from both artists their similarities are revealed in a intriguing yet fascinating way. While Dieter Roth is a 20th century artist in terms of his perpetually going beyond established limits and his capacity for exploring all media and technics, Josh Smith may be considered to be his undoubted heir as a 21st century artist.
They both innovate with materials, experiment as much as possible with form, deconstruct hierarchies thereby promoting the artistic process on aesthetics so that the very authenticity of their art triumph.
The work of Dieter Roth (1930–1998) is an exuberant universe captured in the most varied mediums and difficult to comprehend in its sheer abundance. It includes everything from simple drawings to series of sketches, prints, portfolios of graphics, books and single objects, films and collages, paintings and room installations, musical contraptions, and performances to an extensive body of poetry. Roth was constantly challenged to experiment with and expand the uses of mediums and materials. His work with perishable substances beginning in the 1960s not only represented a deconstruction of hierarchies, it was at the same time a consistently existential stance, a way of creating a spirited art outside of established forms of expression. With increasing subjectivization of pictorial (and linguistic) expression, Dieter Roth commented on the processes of transformation and evanescence in of all existence, which can be apprehended not so much by way of concepts as through subjective experience.
Roth was born in Hannover on 21 April 1930. After attending both primary and higher secondary school in Germany, Roth was sent to stay with a family in Zurich in 1943, where he was joined three years later by his parents. Dieter Roth spent the time in Zurich etching on tin from cans, painting in oils and writing poetry. The enthusiasm of the fledgling artist extended to drawing, pastels and watercolours. After completing his training as a commercial artist in 1951, Roth was left jobless and began to freelance. That same year Dieter Roth joined forces with Marcel Wyss and Eugen Gomringer to found the journal "spirale", which first appeared in 1953 but ceased publication after nine issues in 1954
Dieter Roth earned a living doing decoration and executing occasional commissions while continuing to work on his own œuvre. Roth moved to Iceland in 1957. After a brief stay in New York in 1959, Roth returned to Reykyavik in May, where he worked on Kinetic pictures and sculpture as well as stamp pictures and numerous books. Acquaintanceship with Jean Tinguely and Daniel Spoerri and the ensuing proximity to the Nouveaux Réalistes caused Roth to distance himself from Constructivism in the early 1960s. Dieter Roth's first one-man show was mounted by the Museum College of Art in Philadelphia in September 1964. Roth now began working with chocolate and would continue to use organic materials, for instance in his mildew pictures, so-called "Zerfallobjekten and -bilder" ["Decay objects and pictures"] and "Gewürzbildern" ["Spice pictures"]. Roth then taught for some years at prestigious institutions in the US, Britain and Germany: in the architecture department of Yale University, at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, at the Watfort School of Art in London and the Düsseldorf Art Academy.
Because his works smelled so strongly of decay, Roth's studio at the Düsseldorf Academy had to be cleared out and the works destroyed. In 1969 Roth showed work at "documenta 4" and in 1977 at "documenta 7". By then he was a leading German contemporary artist, collaborating on Happenings and other events with the likes of Arnulf Rainer and Richard Hamilton. In 1982 he designed the Swiss Pavilion at the Venice Biennale.
Dieter Roth died in Basel in 1998.
In 2015 Roth had a retrospective show „And away with the minutes. Dieter Roth and Music“ at Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart in Berlin. As an artist, Dieter Roth was not concerned with beauty. On the contrary, he repudiated aesthetics in his approach to creative work. Roth played on irony, variability and deconstruction, experimenting with all sorts of media and materials.
Josh Smith (born 1976) has become known for his so-called “name paintings” In these his name pops up in endless variations as the central motif: a reflection of the search for an unmistakable artistic identity. Thus this unremarkable name is not content, but rather the occasion for experimental painting that tries out the most varied styles and thereby, despite—or precisely because of—its explicit signature, takes any thought of uniqueness ad absurdum. Also in his “collages,” where found materials like newspaper clippings or menus from take-out joints are combined with his own drawings, posters, and objects from his studio, he focuses on the myth of artistic authenticity.
In recent years Smith has developed an idiosyncratic, abstract manner of painting that includes such motifs as leaves, fish, skeletons, insects, ghosts, and sunsets. He employs these somewhat arbitrary themes alternately in aggressive, playful and repetitious ways, and frequently in oddly eccentric ones. He forces us to focus not so much on the aesthetic result as on his process.
Josh Smith was born in Tennessee in 1976, and has had numerous solo shows in the United States and Europe, including: MACRO Museum, Rome (2015); The American Dream, Brant Foundation, Greenwich, Conn. (2011); Who Am I, De Hallen, Haarlem (2009), and Hidden Darts, Museum Moderner Kunst, Vienna (2008). In addition, Smith has participated in a number of group shows, including: The Painting Factory: Abstraction after Warhol, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Le Printemps de Septembre, Toulouse; The Generational: Younger Than Jesus, The New Museum, New York; Uncertain States of America, Serpentine Gallery, London; and the Lyon Biennale 2007. In 2011 Smith was invited to take part in the 54th Venice Biennale, “ILLUMInazioni.”
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